Thursday: Benefit at Little Nepal on Cortland to Assist Earthquake Victims

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There aren’t many Nepalese restaurants on this side of the pond, but we’ve got one on Cortland, and Little Nepal is hosting a special dinner on Thursday, April 30 to help victims of the massive earthquake that struck Nepal last weekend:

Our hearts are heavy with the news of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday, April 25, killing more than 2,500 people in the country and dozens more in surrounding nations. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing at least 17 people. With poor infrastructure in a densely populated area, Nepal needs our help more than ever.

Please join us in dining to help rebuild and provide aid on Thursday, April 30.

Little Nepal (925 Cortland Avenue) has graciously agreed to create a donation-only select menu for this evening only. We spoke with the Owner and Executive Chef, Prem Tamang, and he is from the district of Kavrepalanchok, Nepal. All of the cash-only donation proceeds will go directly to his hometown. The restaurant is open from 5 – 10 p.m. Come anytime! Upon your arrival, please let the host / server know that you are here for the donation-only meal. Please note that this will exclude beverages and other items off the special menu.

Please spread the word and extend this invite to your network. Together, we can eat delicious Nepalese Cuisine while making a difference.

Prem, Chasa and Sebastien

PHOTO: Courtesy of Little Nepal. Hat tip: Eater SF

Tuesday: Special Spring Wine Dinner at Blue Plate

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We, the Citizens of Bernalwood, are fortunate to have Blue Plate at our metaphorical doorstep. Blue Plate was delicious and cozy and local before delicious and cozy and local were cool, and apart from being one of the most consistently fabulous restaurants in the city, co-owner Jeff Trenam tells us Blue Plate is hosting a special event tomorrow night… and you’re invited:

We are hosting a Scribe Viticultural Society Spring Allocation pick-up dinner on Tuesday, April 28th.  It’s open to the public and we will be pairing their new wines with some new menu items. Everything will be available á la carte. Adam and Andrew from Scribe should be here too.

BLUE PLATE
Scribe Spring Wine Dinner

WHO: Blue Plate and Scribe Winery
WHEN: Tuesday April 28, 2014
WHERE: Blue Plate, 3218 Mission Street (at Valencia)
 San Francisco, CA 94110

WHAT: Adam and Andrew Mariani from Scribe Winery will be at Blue Plate to chat with guests. Scribe Viticultural Society members will get to pick up their spring allocations and Chef de Cuisine, Sean Thomas will serve an á la carte menu with suggested SCRIBE pairings.

RESERVATIONS:  www.blueplatesf.com or call 415-282-6777

PHOTO: Blue Plate’s iconic neon sign by Erik Wilson

Coming Soon: A New Golden Age for Beer in Bernal Heights

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Though you’d hardly know it from walking down the street right now, Bernal Heights is poised to enter a new Golden Age of high-quality beer. That’s right: craft beer, in many varieties, and great abundance… all coming to Bernal, and very soon.

Bernal neighbor Lessley Anderson of Baja Cortlandia is an ace reporter and ardent beer lover, and she files this exclusive report:

Once upon a time, Bernal had it’s own local beer at 3314 Army/Cesar Chavez, called North Star Brewing Company. (You can even see it in this photo.) But that was pre-prohibition, when San Francisco had almost 100 small breweries, and almost every neighborhood had at least one place pumping out fresh beer for the locals.

Joyfully, it appears we’re heading back to those days. According to SF Brewer’s Guild stats, the number of breweries is set to double in San Francisco next year, and cool beer bars are opening up faster than strip-mall cupcake concept stores in 2003. Beer is so hot right now, and the good news for Bernal beer lovers is that one of the hottest hotspots in this hot trendy trend, is… you guessed it, glamorous Bernal Heights.

In the coming months, three new and ambitious beer-focused establishments will open on Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street. Plus, word on the street is that still more beer projects are in development. Taken together, Bernal Heights is poised to blow up into a full-on craft beer destination. But you have questions, and I’ve tracked down lots of answers, so here are the details on what coming:

Name: Bel
Where: 3215 Mission (in the former Locavore space)
When: Plans to open by end of this month
What: This will be Belgian beer bar and bistro from Jennifer Garris and Richard Rosen, of Pi Bar fame, with 12 tap handles. Four of those taps will be dedicated to imported Belgian ales. The others will rotate, including local versions of Belgian-style styles. Bel will also be a full-on restaurant, serving Belgian dishes like moules frites (YES!) , steak frites, and fish waterzooi (which is a stew with an intriguing name).
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: More schwank than Pi Bar, but not fancy. And yes, bring the kids.
Fun Fact: The bar has purchased a replica of Manneken Pis, that famous statue of the little boy peeing into the fountain in Brussels. They’ve also commissioned a seamstress from the SF Opera to make him special outfits for important days, such as Pride, or Elvis’ birthday.

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Name: Old Bus Tavern
Where: 3193 Mission (in the former El Patio space)
When: Slated to open by early June
What: As Bernalwood previously reported, this will be a brewpub and chili-focused restaurant with a separate-but-related VW party bus project. That’s a lot to take-in… so here’s the breakdown: First, these guys will make their own beer (on a small, 3.5 bbl system, for all you beer-geeks out there). They will produce a range of styles, but their flagship beer will be a lemon-basil Saison. They’ll also serve a full menu of “California elevated bar food” that will highlight different chilies, and they’ll have cocktails. Lastly, as mentioned, they’re crowdfunding the purchase and transformation of a vintage Volkswagen bus into a beer/food truck/party mobile.
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: Won’t be fancy, but may be a little hipstery. And yes, kid-tolerant.
Fun Fact: Inspiration for the menu came from an epic roadtrip the partners took through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, where they sampled regional chilis.

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Name: Old Devil Moon
Where: 3472 Mission (in the current La Terrazza space)
When: Hopes to open this fall
What: After La Terrazzo passes the torch, Old Devil Moon will be a bar, first, and foremost. Yet it will also have a limited menu on the side. (A great burger, and some Southern food they say.) They’re not making their own beer, but rather serving other people’s, with 20 rotating taps and a cask ale system, plus cocktails and a deep-dive into whiskeys. Founder Chris Cohen says he wants this place to rival the “best beer bars in the city.” He certainly knows what he’s talking about; Cohen founded the San Francisco Homewbrewers Guild and literally wrote the book on how to become a certified cicerone (which is like being a sommelier for beer). He wants it to be a cozy neighborhood spot with lots of wood and warm colors. They will also serve brunch.
Fancy/Kid-Friendly: Not fancy, and technically, yes, kids allowed. But this will really be more of a bar, FWIW.
Fun Fact: The name comes from an old jazz standard, originally from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Cohen liked the “dark-yet-comfortable” vibe it conjured up.

BONUS! More more more! Fresh from the rumor mill!! 

Name: Hop Oast
Where: 2887 Bryant (at Cesar Chavez, in the former D&J Furniture store)
What: The ABC license says it’s going to be a “small beer manufacturer” and “Pub and Brewery.” And right now, the windows are covered up with recycled bags of beer-making malt. Lisa Marie Delgadillo, owner of the Lucky Horseshoe Tavern on Cortland, is one of the masterminds behind the project, but she says it’s too premature to discuss: “It would be like someone taking a home pregnancy test, then sending out baby shower invitations for a date nine months out,” she explains.

Beer and Chili: Old Bus Tavern, Opening in June, Also Raising Funds for a Fun Bonus Project

OBT Window of Wisdom

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The emergence of our very own NanoTokyo District is an exciting development in Bernal’s culinary landscape, but that’s not the only food news to share from our stretch of Mission Street. A few hundred yards north of NanoTokyo, near the intersection with Valencia, the Old Bus Tavern is gearing up to open soon at 3193 Mission, in the former El Patio space:

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Neighbor Bennett (Ben) Buchanan lives on Precita Avenue, and he’s one of the co-founders of the Old Bus Tavern. He says the focus will be on craft beer and haute chili, and he passes this along this preview:

Slated to open in Bernal Heights in early June, Old Bus Tavern is a destination for upscale pub fare, house-brewed beer, and comfortable craft cocktails. Partners Ben Buchanan, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky, and Tim Symes are collaborating to create a neighborhood gathering place where guests can put away a pint of Lemon Basil Saison, enjoy cocktails with a Southwestern spirit, and dig into next-level bar food with a contemporary culinary sensibility.

The food and beverage menu is a team effort: Buchanan and Zirinsky are co-brewmasters (they’ve been home brewing together for nearly a decade), and Simpson and Symes oversee all food and beverage operations. Bar consultant Christina Cabrera (Novela, 15 Romolo, Range, Michael Mina) is on board to create the cocktail program, which will reflect the tavern’s forward-thinking approach.

Designed with the support of architect Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios (ICHI), and Sarah Greenwood Design (who is Zirinsky’s mom), Old Bus Tavern’s aesthetic embodies the feel of a casual restaurant, brewery, and bar that offers unique drinks and creative, craveable takes on pub food. The brewery equipment will be on full display so patrons can watch the process, and a variety of dedicated dining and drinking areas encourage patrons to settle into whichever of the Tavern’s 47 seats best suits them.

While the primary funding for the restaurant build-out is all lined-up, the Old Bus Tavern crew also has a crowdfunding campaign underway to raise some extra money to convert an old VW bus into a mobile food truck. The video they created for the effort also provides a nice introduction to what the Old Bus Tavern will be all about:

If you’d like, you can contribute to the effort — and learn more about the proposal — at the crowdfunding site.

Of course, there’s one detail that cannot pass without mention.  If you watch the Old Bus Tavern video above, you may notice something odd. Something very curious. Something very bizarre. At the beginning of the video, it says:

“Welcome to the future home of Old Bus Tavern, Mission-Bernal’s new brew pub.”

Hmmmm.  Confusing. And then, it happens again, just 15 seconds later:

“We want to bring back that tradition of fresh, local beer to the residents of Mission-Bernal”

Those latter words are spoken by none other than Neighbor Bennet of Precitaville, which is particularly baffling because Neighbor Bennet is a longtime Citizen of Bernalwood. You will notice that in the video, Neighbor Bennet’s lips move, and sounds emerge from his throat, and he says:

“Mission-Bernal”

Mission-Bernal? Mission-Bernal!? Where is that? What is that? Does that even exist? And if it must be a hybrid, shouldn’t it be Bernal-Mission?

Your Bernalwood editor brought this matter up with Neighbor Bennet of Precitaville, and he assured us that it was just a big misunderstanding. Neighbor Bennet said something about establishing a brand and **cough cough** a national marketing plan and… to be honest, I couldn’t even pay attention to what he was saying after a while because I was to busy feeling queasy and hyperventilating. I mean… Mission-Bernal?  What?

Suffice to say, after some constructive dialog, Neighbor Bennet now understands with perfect clarity that the Old Bus Tavern will be opening soon in a place called Bernal Heights, and that the Citizens of Bernal Heights are very excited to welcome their new establishment to our lands. We’ve received tacit assurances that geo-nomenclature matters will be handled with greater sensitivity in the future.

But just in case there’s any lingering ambiguity, Bernalwood also sent the Old Bus Tavern team this helpful best-practices guide:

simplymissionbernal

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Old Bus Tavern

Japanese Curry House and Japanese-Style Oyster Bar Coming Soon to Mission Street

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All of a sudden, a single block of Mission Street in Bernal Heights is poised become a Japanese food hotspot. Indeed, in a few months, Bernal Heights will be home to such a dense cluster of Japanese cuisine that the La Lengua Tourism Promotion Bureau should begin calling it Nano Tokyo.

We’re talking about the area of Mission near 29th Street. As we all know, this is where you’ll find Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, the hyperacclaimed sushi bar and izakaya created by Bernal neighbors Tim and Erin Archuleta. And then, of course, Coco Ramen recently opened up across the street, right next door to the unfortunately named (but actually quite solid) Crazy Sushi. So: Sushi, sushi, izakaya, and ramen.

Now Bernalwood has learned that even more Japanese cuisine is coming to this area:

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Yes, construction is now underway inside the former location of the much-lamented Eagle Donuts. Bernalwood has learned that the space will soon become the Fumi Curry House, a restaurant that will specialize in Japanese-style curry. What’s Japanese-style curry? Well, it’s hearty and delicious — if somewhat esoteric on these shores. In Japan, people love it as a comfort food (sort of like the way Americans feel about mac and cheese). Here’s a photo of some Japanese curry your Bernalwood editor ate in Japan a few years ago:

japanesecurry

Here’s how SeriousEats describes Japanese curry:

People might be surprised to find curry in Japanese restaurants, but the fact is karē raisu (カレーライス), or Japanese curry rice, is so ubiquitous in Japanese home-cooking that it might well be considered one of the country’s national dishes.

Curry was introduced to Japan via the British in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Meiji-era Japan opened its doors to foreigners and their goods. As a result, Japanese curry inherits most of its characteristics from Anglo curry—which means that the Japanese used and continue to use curry powder. Curry powder, a ready-made mix of spices, began to be standardized and mass-produced in Britain at the height of Queen Victoria’s colonial stronghold of India. Curry powders are not only standardized masalas—they are also adapted to Western palates, and often result in curry dishes that are slightly sweet.

In Japan, British curry developed into karē raisu, a curried, thick stew of potatoes, carrots, onions, and your meat of choice, served over a bed of short-grain, white rice, and topped with pickles.

If you’ve never had Japanese curry, you’ll be able to try it soon enough. The build-out for Fumi Curry House is already underway inside the former Eagle Donuts, and construction should be complete in about a month. Then its just a question of how long it takes to sort out all the permits.

Meanwhile, just up the street, the Team Ichi is gearing up to open their new Japanese-style oyster bar inside Ichi Sushi’s cozy original space just down the road at 3369 Mission, on the corner of Godeus. So what is a Japanese-style oyster bar?

Frankly, we have no idea! Kaki is the Japanese word for oyster; the -ya at the end means “shop.” So kakiya means “oyster shop,” which isn’t very helpful because  we already knew it was an oyster shop. Neighbor Tim and Neighbor Erin are being coy about their diabolical plans, but we’re told opening day is approaching. This weekend, however, the @ICHIKakiya Twitter account came to life for the very first time, whereupon we were treated to this photo of Chef Tim doing something unseemly with a large, red machine:

Now, it must be noted that none of the restaurants are Japanese-owned. (The owners of Fumi Curry House are Chinese.) Yet when you pull it all together, and look at what’s there now, and what’s coming soon, there is definitely a serious Japanese food cluster happening. It’s not big enough to be called a Little Tokyo. But it sure is starting to taste a little like Shibuya. (All that’s missing is a yakitori joint.)

So let us now dub this zone Nano Tokyo. Here is your guide map:

NanoTokyo.map

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Tonight: Donkey Rides and Special Cocktails at Rock Bar’s Third Anniversary Bash

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Did you know that people have been throwing back drinks at the corner of 29th and Tiffany in La Lengua for 100+ years? It’s true (and you can learn more about that below).

Today the lovely crew at the gritty-glamorous Rock Bar carries on that sordid tradition in fine form, and they invite you to their kid-friendly Third Anniversary Party TONIGHT:

Rock Bar THIRD ANNIVERSARY

What: Rock Bar’s Third Anniversary Donkey Party
Where: Rock Bar 80 29th Street
When: Thursday March 19th 5pm-2am

Join Rock Bar in celebrating three years at 80 29th Street. A neighborhood watering hole for over one hundred years, we are proud to take part in a rich History at the base of Bernal Hill. The Spring Equinox marks our anniversary and we invite you to dress as your favorite Astrological Sign. Or come dressed as YOU ARE (you do you) – ENJOY batched cocktails, punch, and edibles from The Front Porch.

As a bar we cater to adults, at nite while much of the neighborhood sleeps. We have two parents on our team and we know many who cannot take part in the nightlife we host. Each anniversary we offer an opportunity for friends, family, the young and old to take part in celebrating… We invite our young neighbors to enjoy a Donkey Ride down Tiffany as the sun sets behind Diamond Heights. It gives us great pleasure to see families engaged with our bar program!

FREE Donkey Rides down Tiffany from 5pm-9pm

We are sure to entertain as well…
INTERNET FAMOUS returns, with Jimmy Franks & Johnny Bagels

SPECIAL BONUS! Check out this fun little history of the bar space compiled by Team Rock Bar:

History of 80 29th Street:
2011 – Rock Bar – bar
2001-2011 – International Club – lounge
1996-2000 – Esperanza’s – lounge
1981-1991 – Nello’s Place – lounge
1975-1980 – Tiffany’s Lodge – tavern
1968-1974 – Joe & Gill – tavern
1955-1965 – Walt’s Place – lounge
1953-1954 – Geo & Walt’s Place – lounge
1951-1953 – Wesch’s Place – parlor
1942-1950 – Tiffany Club – parlor
1937 – Cornelius Sweeney – liquors
1934-1936 – Tiffany Inn – bar
1931 – Martin Burke (during Prohibition)
1922 – M. J. Reynolds (during Prohibition)
1915-1917 – Timothy J Costello – saloon
1911-1915 – Michael Coody – Saloon
1910 – Mary Caulfield – liquors
1902-1909 – Frank P. Caulfield – liquors

Epicurean Trader Opening This Morning on Cortland

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This morning, The Epicurean Trader will open for business at 401 Cortland, on the corner of Bennington, for the very first time. Grand Opening! Woo hoo!

That said, when your Bernalwood editor first heard that the business would be called The Epicurean Trader, I was gravely concerned. Sure, the fetishism of San Francisco food aficionados can be a bit obnoxious at times. But a business dedicated entirely to the buying and selling of epicureans? As if they were human chattel? Well, let’s just say that seemed a bit extreme.

Fortunately, co-proprietor Holly McDell helped clear things up. Rest assured, she says, the Epicurean Trader will not engage in the buying and selling of epicureans. Instead, it will facilitate the the buying and selling of artisanal food products to epicureans. Whew! Bernalwood is very relieved.

Here’s what else Neighbor Holly has to say about The Epicurean Trader:

My husband Mat and I moved to Bernal (on Putnam) a few years ago, after having our first child. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the sense of community.

The store is called The Epicurean Trader. Inside the store you’ll find hand-selected small batch artisan products from across America, chosen for their incredible flavors and fusions, natural ingredients, and beautiful packaging.

As you are probably aware, there are many amazing products out there that struggle to get into large wholesale accounts for a number of reasons (reliance on distributors, lack of capital or brand awareness etc). Our goal is to be a brand ambassador for these smaller brands, sharing their unique stories, and bringing many of them to San Francisco for the first time.

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We aim to provide a space for Bernal residents to discover and taste the best artisanal foods from across the country. In addition, we will have a curated selection of wines, craft beers, and small batch distilled spirits. On the wine side we are working with Bernal local Jason Moore of Alluvial Wines, as well as Alex Finberg (former sommelier of Farina, and trusted consultant for some of San Francisco’s top restaurants and markets). They have kindly shared their experience and palates to develop a wine program specifically for the Bernal demographic. We aim to have a selection of amazing wines at every price point, to enjoy both mid week, as well as on special occasions.

By working directly with brands and avoiding distributors wherever possible, we aim to offer these products at affordable prices. We see our product selection as being complementary that of The Good Life and Avedano’s.

We’re also going to have in-store tastings where the artisans and wine makers etc can come and share their stories.

Neighbor Holly says The Epicurean Trader will be open at 11 am today. We say: Welcome!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of The Epicurean Trader